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  • Writer's pictureOliver Watton

The Iconic World of Hollyoaks: A Steep Learning Curve

I still vividly remember the moment I received the news that I had been cast in Hollyoaks, one of the most iconic British soap operas of all time. The excitement and nervous anticipation that flowed through my veins were indescribable. Although I can't quite recall the character's name I auditioned for, the character I ultimately portrayed was Olly Larkin. It marked the beginning of an exhilarating adventure, and little did I know just how much I would learn along the way.

Hollyoaks, filmed at Lime Pictures in Liverpool, is a well-oiled machine with a rapid production schedule. One of the first things I learned was that one page of A4 script roughly equates to one minute on screen and takes about an hour to film. This knowledge was essential as we aimed to maintain the show's high quality and deliver compelling storylines to the viewers. The production operates with multiple units filming different blocks of episodes every day, creating an environment that is nothing short of organised chaos.

Throughout my time on the show, I had the privilege of sharing the screen with Ashley Slanina-Davies, a beloved long-time regular who portrayed "Amy Barnes." Ashley's kindness and warmth made me feel welcome and safe on set. She had my back, guiding me through the intricacies of Hollyoaks with grace and professionalism. Working alongside Kieron Richardson, who played the iconic character "Ste," was an inspiration. Kieron's infectious enthusiasm and boundless energy made each day on set an absolute delight. Despite his busy schedule, juggling Hollyoaks with his commitments to "Dancing on Ice," Kieron always brought his A-game.

What truly set Hollyoaks apart for me was its open-ended nature. It seems obvious to say, but unlike previous shows or plays I had been a part of, Hollyoaks had no predetermined end. There were no character arcs or journeys written in stone; it was all yet to be discovered. At first, this posed a challenge as I grappled with the uncertainty of where my character, Olly Larkin, would go. However, this challenge became a source of inspiration. I learned to trust my first instincts, to make bold choices, and to embrace the spontaneity of it all. It was a remarkable creative journey, one where I could let my character evolve and grow in ways I had never imagined.

The most surreal moment was watching my first episode air and seeing my name roll up in the credits at the end. It was a culmination of years of hard work, auditions, and perseverance. I had been cast by the incredible Dorothy Andrew, whose guidance and belief in my talent were instrumental in my journey to Hollyoaks. I recently had the pleasure of auditioning for the show once again, this time for a different character, under the casting direction of Peter Hunt. While I didn't secure the role, the experience was fantastic, and Peter's focus and feedback were invaluable. I hope for the opportunity to return to Hollyoaks someday.

Hollyoaks has been a launchpad for many talented actors who have gone on to make their mark in the entertainment industry. Notable names like Nathalie Emmanuel, Will Mellor, and Emmett J. Scanlan all began their journeys on the show. These actors have seamlessly transitioned into other great British TV shows and have even conquered Hollywood, with Nathalie Emmanuel's role in the massive series "Game of Thrones" being a standout example. It's a testament to the incredible talent pool nurtured by Hollyoaks.

In conclusion, my time on Hollyoaks was a whirlwind of excitement, learning, and personal growth. It was an honour to be part of such an iconic show and work alongside some of the industry's finest talents. Hollyoaks' open-ended nature challenged me to be bolder and trust my instincts, ultimately making me a better actor. As I continue my journey in the world of entertainment, I carry the lessons and experiences from my time on Hollyoaks with me, ready to tackle whatever new adventures come my way.

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